SAN FRANCISCO -- There is a certain reverence in the voice of Warriors rookie Alen Smailagic when he references Draymond Green, and it’s more than a wide-eyed rookie hoping to please an accomplished veteran.
It’s creeping toward a mentor-pupil relationship.
“I really like to talk to him because he really wants to help me,” Smailagic told NBC Sports Bay Area late Saturday night. “The way he talks to me and everything, it really helps me. It helps me develop into a better player.
“He told me points are going to come. That I’m young but that he likes the way I play, and the way I want to play.”
Smailagic, 19, has played 25 NBA minutes, five in a win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday and 20 in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday. He has spent most of the past year toiling with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the NBA team’s G League affiliate.
Green, is a little more than two months away from his 30th birthday. He’s a one-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year award winner, a three-time NBA champion, three-time All-Star and a five-time All-Defensive team member.
So, yes, it’s wise of Smailagic to listen to and study Green.
“I love how inquisitive he is,” Green said. “Every time, he’s like, ‘What you got for me?’ Or, ‘What did you see?’ Part of that is good. But I also don’t want him to play to not make mistakes. You can’t play the game of basketball to not make mistakes, or you’ll make a ton of mistakes.
“It’s about helping him find that balance. As a leader, help him when I can but also figure out when I shouldn’t say anything.”
Smailagic is ready to hang on Green’s words because they both are listed at power forward. They do, however, have different body types. Green is 6-6, 230 pounds, with a 7-1 wingspan. Smailagic is 6-10, 220, with a 7-2 wingspan.
If there is one thing Smailagic marvels at and wants to put under a microscope, it’s Green’s ability to defend all five positions. It’s a rare skill, yet worth pursuing.
“It’s his eighth year in the league, so I asked him how to play defense because he is a power forward like me,” Smailagic said. “How is he guarding guards? The advice he gave me was really good, so I started guarding them like I play their position.”
It’s early, but Smailagic shows signs of being a quick learner.
No matter, though, as if Green has learned anything this season, it is patience.